Europe’s Muslims Are More Integrated Than You Think

Muslim and German.

Photographer: OLIVER BERG/AFP/Getty Images

 Debates over immigration are fraught with misconceptions. One of the most common is that the integration of Muslims into Western Europe societies has gone very badly, in large part because terror attacks loom so large in the news. Those attacks are a very real problem, yet they do not reflect the typical reality.  A new study from the Bertelsmann Stiftung in Germany shows that Muslim integration in Europe is in fact proceeding at a reasonable pace.

The survey included more than 1,000 Muslims in Germany and about 500 in Austria, France, Switzerland and the U.K. (both immigrants and children of immigrants were included, though not recent refugees). Although this is hardly the first study of its kind, the results offer considerable hope for societies facing integration challenges: The stereotype of an uneducated, unemployed, easily radicalized Muslim migrant does not fit the facts.

The first sign of integration is language skill. About three-quarters of the Muslims born in Germany report German as their first language; 46 percent of foreign-born Muslims do. Overall, language skills improve with each generation, and migrants seem to be resourceful in finding ways to learn an adopted country's tongue. Muslims immigrants to France and the U.K. often arrive knowing the languages of their new countries.

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